Woman enjoying blueberries in a bowl

6 Ways to Spring Clean Your Diet

Other than sunny weather and longer days, spring also brings about all kinds of fresh produce that is either hard to find or simply non-existent during rest of the year.

With the abundance of body-boosting, delicious dietary options, there’s no more excuse to revert to old, damaging food habits.

And to give you some ideas on how to overhaul your diet, we have prepared this guide with essential tips on how to use the sunny season to your advantage and, over time, build healthy habits that you can adhere to during the rest of the year, as well.

Introduce High-fiber Meals

In the springtime, we tend to be more active and spend more time outdoors.

This, is turn, causes us to reach for food items that will please our palates and fuel our body.

And if you’re the type of person who isn’t exactly health-conscious, you may end up gravitating towards instantly filling foods laden with processed carbs and sugars.

Sure, these might feel gratifying short-term, but if you want to build a satisfying, health-oriented diet, then you might want to ditch these processed baddies and go for energizing, fiber-rich options.

What are fibers and why should you include more of them in your meals, you ask?

Fibers are the kind of carbohydrates your body doesn’t digest. Since fiber itself has zero calories and helps boost digestive system, it should be an essential component in every though-out diet plan.

Luckily, foods that are high in fiber are plentiful come spring, which is why this is the perfect moment to load up your plate with these energizing nutrients.

Among the foods that contain high level of fiber are oatmeal, barley, as well as various kinds of legumes.

Fresh green peas are one of most delicious spring foods which are not only super-easy to prepare, but also chock-full of body-fueling fibers.

You can mix your peas with other springtime veggies and cook over garlic and olive oil. Alternatively, you can add them to your favorite pasta or blend them into a delicious puree as a side.

Lentil is another legume rich in fiber, which is also incredibly satisfying and belly-filling. To make your lentils extra-tasty, turn them into a basil-infused soup or mash them with some lemon juice and a couple of garlic cloves for a delicious spread.

If you are looking for a more breakfast-friendly option, you can always equip your kitchen with a box of bran flakes, which are one of the most readily-available sources of fiber. And if the taste of this fiber-rich cereal doesn’t fill you up with excitement, you can always combine it with your favorite leafy greens or fruit and blend it into a mouthwatering smoothie.

Learn to Love Leafy Greens

If you’re looking for the easiest and quickest way to increase your daily dosage of various health-charging nutrients, then leafy greens should be at the very top of your list.

These dietary superheroes are packed with a plethora of vitamins, minerals and other goodies that will not only improve your immunity and overall wellbeing, but also contribute to a healthier appearance of skin, nails and hair. Win-win!

Plus, you’ll be pleased to hear that springtime is when leafy greens reign supreme. 

Leafy green rookies might want to ease their way into their new routine by going for a veggie with a more milder, versatile taste.

Baby spinach is the perfect starter-level leafy green. It can go into any food combo, from omelets to stir-fries to smoothies. Moreover, it has a subtle, refreshing taste, so you won’t have to worry about it overpowering the rest of your meal.

More advanced leafy greens aficionados can enrich their day-to-day meals with a bona fide celebrity among superfoods – kale. This leafy green has become wildly popular in the health and wellness sphere – for good reason, too: it contains high concentration of Vitamin K, which can shield your body from all kinds of illness.

Stir-fried kale in a pan

Even though kale is slightly more bitter in taste than baby spinach, you should have no problems including it into your daily meal prep – it can be blanched, sautéed, baked or blended!

Finally, seasoned leafy green lovers might want to go for something more challenging this spring. If you haven’t done so already, why not try stepping up your veggie game by introducing collard greens into your diet?

These nutritional powerhouses are often overlooked in favor of more accessible leafy greens, possibly because of their somewhat earthy tang and chewy texture.

However, if you know how to prepare them, collard greens can be just as delicious and health-boosting as any other leaf vegetable.

One of the easiest way to soften them up and bring out the flavor is to cook them in a broth with other veggies of your choice. Alternatively, you can drizzle a bit of olive oil over a hot pan and sauté your greens with a couple of crushed and chopped garlic cloves.

Try Out Energy-boosting Snacks

Once gloomy winter days come to an end, you will inevitably feel inspired to spend more time outdoors and on your feet.

And planning meals while you’re busy running errands and catching up with friends might prove to be a little bit challenging.

What’s more, if you don’t have a clear of idea what you’re going to eat and when, you might end up reaching for the least healthy options when you’re running low on fuel.

That’s why it’s very important to always keep body-energizing snacks at hand, which you can nibble on wherever you go.

And if you want to go down the healthy road, spring is the ideal time to start introducing healthy, straight-from-nature snacks that your body will be thanking you for.

One of the most convenient and energizing snacks are nuts and seeds.

They are easy to carry around and whip out whenever you’re feeling peckish.

What’s more, they are packed with a host of healthy nutrients that will replenish your body without adding extra pounds (when consumed in moderation).

One of the most readily available and healthy nuts are almonds, which have many body-boosting properties. A handful of almonds a day can help reduce bad cholesterol and help with high blood pressure.

On the other hand, if you’re more of a pistachio fan, you’ll be pleased to hear that these nuts contain high levels of antioxidants, especially potassium, which are incredibly beneficial for the nervous system.

Cashews can also be a great option for midday snacking, as they can help strengthen your bones and improve your overall immune system.

Fruit and Berries Over Processed Sugar

Most of us know that processed sugars are a definite no-go when it comes to building a healthy diet routine.

And while it’s pretty obvious that your standard candy and soda is loaded with added sugar, sometimes these high-calorie baddies are not that easy to spot.

For example, added sugars could be hiding in your favorite granola bar or that salad dressing you always use in your meals.

Luckily, thanks to the appropriate food labeling, it’s easier to identify those extra sugars found in our everyday groceries.

However, if you want to take the healthy route, spring is the right time to start satisfying your sugar cravings with deserts that have come straight from nature.

In the spring, nature becomes abundant with juicy, delicious fruit which can be a great replacement for your standard go-to treats.

One of the healthiest choices to satisfy your sweet tooth are berries. These bite-sized, vitamin-laden goodies are not only good for you body, they are also super-easy to get a hold of during sun-filled spring days.

Variety of berries in a measuring spoon

For example, strawberries – everyone’s favorite fruit of the season – are not only rich in various health-boosting nutrients, they also contain very few calories, making them a great choice for people looking to shed a few pounds.

Blueberries are also plentiful in spring, and make for a great addition to any smoothie or fruit salad. What’s more, blueberries are packed with phytochemicals, flavonoids and antioxidants which are essential for improving the immune system.

Put More Veggies on Your Plate

If your meals aren’t usually packed with vegetables, spring is the ideal time to change that for the better.

This season brings all kinds of tasty, health-boosting produce which will not only contribute to your overall well-being, it will also make you want to try out more creative, exciting meal options.

All you need to go to the green market and pack your grocery bags with all those delicious spring veggies.

And if you’re not really sure where to start, here are some of the most satisfying, palate-enticing spring superstars that you can incorporate into your spring meals with little to no effort.

One of the most popular springtime veggies is asparagus, a green stalk rich in iron, calcium, as well as vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6.

There are many different ways you can introduce asparagus into your daily recipes; for example, sautéed with eggs for breakfast, thrown into a salad with other veggies and a few slices of of fresh mozzarella for lunch or post-workout snack, or grilled with a slice of salmon for an evening meal.

Brussel sprouts are also great for filling up your belly and supplying you with energy during sunny spring days. These bite-sized veggies are packed with Vitamin C, K and plenty of antioxidants. Fry them for a couple of minutes with a chili or two to give the sprouts a kick; alternatively, roast them with the rest of your favorite veggies for a more rich and smoky flavor.

Don’t Be Afraid of (Healthy) Fats

If you are new to the world of wellness, then seeing the words “healthy” and “fat” in the same sentence might feel odd to you.

But fats don’t have to be necessarily bad for you.

On the contrary – healthy, nature-derived fats are essential for achieving balanced eating habits.

Since fats are higher in calories than proteins and carbohydrates, they will keep you feeling full and sated for long periods of time.

The only trick is to stick to unsaturated, straight-out-of-nature fats and stay away from the nasty, processed stuff.

Fortunately, spring offers plenty of healthy fat options you can incorporate into your everyday meals.

As mentioned before, nuts are a great source of unsaturated fats and proteins; moreover, they make for a great snack in-between bigger meals.

Healthy nuts in two bowls

Another food that is not only supremely delicious, but also high in natural fats is avocado. This nutritious, versatile fruit that originates from Central America can be prepared in countless way. For a quick and easy option, simply scoop out your avocado and spread it on a slice of toasted bread. Alternatively, you can chop it up in your salad or add it to your smoothie for a richer, creamier texture and extra nourishment.

And for something a little more substantial, go for fatty fish. Mackerel, salmon, trout, sardines and other creatures of the sea are loaded with unsaturated fats, as well as hearth-healthy Omega-3 acids, which can help with a host of health issues, including blood fat, arthritis, asthma, depression and ADHD. On a more skin-deep level, these acids can contribute to a plump, wrinkle-free complexion.

Spring is also the ideal time to switch to extra virgin olive oil, which is another ingredient that’s chock-full of healthy acids. This staple of Mediterranean diet contains high doses of Vitamin E and K, as well as a number of antioxidants. You can use olive oil in cooking or simply drizzle it over your favorite breads, salads and veggies.

And with this, we are wrapping up out list of essential tips and tricks on how to make your diet healthier and more spring-friendly. Now you can go out and stock up on all these delicious, sun-soaked foods that will ensure your belly is full and your health is in check.

Mediterranean diet

Adopting A Mediterranean Diet

If you’ve ever wondered why Mediterraneans are so good looking, the answer is obviously the diet! Mediterraneans thrive on a delicious balance of fish and vegetables, cheese, and spices drenched in pure olive oil keeping their hair thick, eyes bright, bones straight, heart healthy, and skin unwrinkled. If you have been toying with the idea of adopting a Mediterranean diet, let’s examine what it will entail.

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
Why the Mediterranean diet? Research shows that the Mediterranean diet lowers heart disease and is associated with a lower level of bad cholesterol. In fact, an analysis of more than 1.5 million adults showed that the diet reduces risk of heart failure and increases overall mortality. Those who eat a Mediterranean diet are at a lower risk for cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and women who eat a diet including mixed nuts and olive oil may be less susceptible to breast cancer.

Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, and Nuts
If you travel to the Mediterranean, you will find no shortage of vegetables, fruit, rice, and pasta. Greek diets include very little red meat and an average of nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Grains are usually whole grains with few trans fats and the bread is eaten plain or dipped in olive oil, as opposed to trans fat, containing butter or margarine.

Although nuts are high in fat, most of it is not saturated, which means they are good fuel for your body, but excessive amounts can lead to weight gain. While nuts are a big part of the Mediterranean diet, experts recommend keeping your intake down to no more than a handful a day.

Healthy Fats
Olive oil constitutes the primary source of fat in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil is a mono saturated fat, which is known to reduce bad cholesterol when used instead of saturated fats. Virgin and extra virgin olive oils are the least processed forms of oil and contain plant compounds with antioxidant properties.

Polyunsaturated fats and mono saturated fats, such as are found in canola oil and nuts, contain Omega -3 fatty acids which decreases blood clotting, lowers triglycerides, improves blood vessel health and regulates blood pressure. Fatty fish, including sardines, mackerels, albacore tuna, and salmon is also a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Wine
While many doctors are reluctant to include any form of alcohol in a healthy diet, wine has been showed to reduce the risk of heart disease in some studies. The Mediterranean diet recommends limiting wine intake to no more than 5 ounces a day for women, and no more than ten ounces for men under 65. Men over 65 should keep it down to five. Higher amounts can lead to liver failure or heart disease.

Eat healthy and be gorgeous! Let us know how you plan to do your Mediterranean diet in the New Year!

Woman eating healthy food

Eating Healthy on 2,500 Calories

Two thousand and five-hundred calories every day might seem like a lot of food (or it might not, it really depends on your mental concepts of such things), but for a respectable portion of the population, it’s actually an appropriate target. Specifically, sedentary men ages 19 to 30, moderately active men ages 31 to 50, active men over 50, and very active women of various ages all may need approximately 2,500 calories in their diet.

But of course, it’s not as simple as calorie-counting, regardless of the target number. Not all calories are created equal, and to eat healthily, you need to balance things properly. Let’s talk about how to do that.

Lean Proteins
Protein is essential for everyone, and lean protein is the best you can get in this regard. On 2,500 calories a day, you need approximately 6.5 ounces of protein a day. An ounce of protein can be found in an ounce of seafood, poultry, lean red meats, an egg, ¼ cup of tofu, ½ an ounce of seeds and/or nuts, and a tablespoon of peanut butter, roughly speaking.

Woman having food rich in fiber.

Lots of Fiber
Also incredibly important is fiber. Following a 2,500 calorie plan, you should get 3 ¼ cups of veggies and 2 cups of fruits a day. Variety is key here, and generally, dark, leafy greens and vibrant red and purple fruits are best. For conversion purposes, half a cup of dried fruit is equal to one cup fresh fruit or fruit juice (no added sugar!), and 2 cups of leafy greens roughly equals one cup of other vegetables

Opt for Healthy Fats
For every source of trans fat and saturated fat, there’s plenty of alternatives. That said, healthy fats are still fats, and shouldn’t be over-consumed regardless. You want about 7 teaspoons of oil a day on a 2,500 plan; any extra is going to interfere with your heart health. Olive oils, coconut oil (in moderation; it is still a saturated fat), and avocado oil are just a few examples of healthier fats.

You Don’t Actually Need Dairy
It’s a common misconception that dairy is a basic food group and essential for good nutrition. This is actually quite false, and humans are not really designed to consume any kind of milk once they stop breastfeeding. That said, we’ve evolved to tolerate dairy, and in moderation, it’s not necessarily harmful (unless you’re lactose-intolerant, of course), so there’s nothing wrong with having a little as a treat now and then, but don’t get tricked into thinking it’s essential.

Soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, cashew milk, and coconut milk are a few examples of tasty non-dairy milk alternatives, and can help you avoid the saturated fats of many dairy products or if you can’t tolerate lactose. Skim milk also features less lactose, which might be okay if your lactose intolerance is mild or moderate (as opposed to severe), and it also, of course, contains less fat.